National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA)


Providing free technical information and guidance to producers and information providers on a wide range of sustainable agriculture topics

Learning to farm is hard enough, but learning to farm sustainably can often be an even more knowledge intensive process that necessitates hands-on training and guidance. Thankfully, there is an online resource available to farmers that provides free access to information and research on a wide range of sustainable agriculture topics. For over 30 years, ATTRA has been providing farmers, ranchers and others involved in sustainable agriculture with valuable information and resources that address key challenges they are facing on their farms.

Learn More About ATTRA:

Program Basics

ATTRA, also known as the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), which is headquartered in Butte, Montana. NCAT has regional offices in Arkansas, California, New Hampshire, Texas and Mississippi.

ATTRA provides information and technical assistance to those engaged in or serving commercial agriculture, such as farmers, ranchers, extension agents, farm organizations and other domestic farm-based businesses. ATTRA serves as an excellent complement to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program given its provision of readily accessible sustainable and organic farming resources to farmers and ranchers across the nation.

ATTRA offers a wide variety of information and free resources on sustainable agriculture, from horticultural and agronomic crops to livestock production systems to business planning and farm succession. ATTRA’s services seek to help U.S. farmers increase profitability and provide more healthful food for consumers while becoming better stewards of natural resources and the environment.

Clients can call in requests on a toll-free telephone line, and also access information and resources through the ATTRA website.

ATTRA’s agriculture program specialists respond to requests on how to:

  • Improve farm income with a diversity of crops and livestock
  • Produce alternative crops and livestock
  • Reduce dependence on off-farm inputs
  • Improve soil fertility and water quality
  • Institute sustainable and organic farming practices
  • Save or produce energy
  • Assess new marketing methods
  • Incorporate value-added products

Eligibility

ATTRA is free for anyone to access and use! Get started by checking out the main website, calling the ATTRA toll-free hotline (1-800-346-9140), or by emailing ATTRA at askanag@ncat.org.

The Program in Action

ATTRA specializes in responding to questions about specific sustainable enterprises or practices. ATTRA agriculture program specialists will research the question, summarize findings in writing, and compile supporting literature as appropriate to accompany the report, which a farmer then receives via mail or electronically. Publications based on frequently requested topics are also available.

ATTRA provides more than 300 topic-specific publications on its website, covering a wide variety of topics related to organic and sustainable agriculture, including:

  • Agriculture, Climate Change and Carbon Sequestration
  • Biointensive Integrated Pest Management
  • Finding Land to Farm: Six Ways to Secure Farmland
  • Manures for Organic Crop Production
  • Overview of Cover Crops and Green Manures
  • Agroforestry: An Overview
  • Aquaponics – Integration of Hyrdoponics with Aquaculture
  • Compost Heated Greenhouses
  • Season Extension Techniques for Market Gardners
  • Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees
  • Crop Insurance Options for Specialty, Diversified, and Organic Farmers
  • Postharvest Handling of Fruits and Vegetables.

Most of these publications are available for free download on the ATTRA website. A small fee is charged for some publications, though the fee can be waived in the case of financial hardship by contacting ATTRA staff.

ATTRA also provides a free weekly electronic newsletter on national events and advances in sustainable agriculture. The newsletter may be subscribed to at no charge via the ATTRA website.

How to Apply and Program Resources

All of ATTRA’s publications and multimedia information (including webinar and radio broadcasts) are available for free download on the NCAT website.

ATTRA can also be reached by phone at the ATTRA toll-free hotline (1-800-346-9140) or by email at askanag@ncat.org.

Program History, Funding, and Farm Bill Changes

ATTRA was first created by the 1985 Farm Bill and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT).  The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorizes ATTRA and made no changes to the program.

Funding is provided for ATTRA through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and is allocated through the annual agriculture appropriations bill passed by Congress each year. This funding supports the informational and educational work of more than 30 staff assigned to the ATTRA program.

Currently, ATTRA is authorized to receive $5 million per year; however, the program has historically not received more than $2.8 million in appropriations in any given year. ATTRA funding was zeroed out temporarily in the 2011 appropriations process, and the program was temporarily at risk of disappearing altogether. However, NSAC and our allies across the country fought hard to restore funding for this vital resource for sustainable farmers, and were successful in re-establishing the program with $2.25 million in funding for FY 2012, and at least $2.25 million in each subsequent fiscal year.

As a discretionary program, the funding level for ATTRA will be determined each year by Congress in the annual agricultural appropriations bill. Future funding cannot be projected because funding levels will be determined one year at a time by Congress.

ATTRA Program Funding 

Fiscal Year Total (in millions)
2015 $2.5
2016 $2.5
2017 $2.75
2018 $2.75
2019 $2.8

For the most current information on program funding levels, please see NSAC’s Annual Appropriations Chart.

Authorizing Language

Section 6414 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 amends Subsection 450(b) of the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act of 196, to be codified at 7 U.S.C. Section 450i(b) and a note to 7 U.S.C. Section 450i


Last updated in August 2019.